Grinder, Robert started off as dealers

Long before Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi and Robert Mizrachi became poker stars, they sat on the other side of the table, dealing cards. They’re circling back to that experience now, opening up the Mizrachi Dealer Academy in Hollywood.

About a decade ago, Robert, 33, dealt on cruise ships such as SeaEscapeand at Dania Jai-Alai. Michael Mizrachi, now 31, worked as a dealer at those places and at the Seminole Casino Hollywood Classic. So did his future wife, Lily.

“We had a great time as poker dealers, and I was making very good money,” she says. The couple now has three children and lives in North Miami Beach.

Since then, Michael has won $11.8 million in tournaments, including finishing fifth at the World Series of Poker in 2010. Robert has won $4 million.

A longtime friend of the Mizrachis, Stacy Matuson is the chief of operations and head instructor. She has 18 years’ experience dealing poker, managing poker rooms and running tournaments.

“We always talked about opening up a poker-dealer school together,” Matuson says. “We think there’s a market for this, and we can do it better than the schools out there.”

Matuson is also a successful player: She reached the final table in a World Poker Tour event in Aruba in 2005.

The course costs $1,200, and includes 120 hours of instruction. The school is at 6770 Stirling Road in Hollywood. Call 954-963-3777 or go to

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